The smart shopper knows that the classics never goes out of style. Go on the hunt for vintage treasures or look for pre-loved luxury goods that are easier on the credit card. If you need more convincing, it’s also much more ecologically friendly to be buying old than spending up on new.
Here, our choice of the best retro-tastic shopping in Sydney.
The Eastern Suburbs
Zoo Emporium stocks vintage dresses and accessories from most eras: think 1920s art deco sequinned outfits, faux-fur capes and 1940s suits, along with the best of the 1970s and ’80s. There’s also a good range of accessories, including vintage fascinators, hats and sunglasses.
Miss Brown Vintage is something of an empire, with three stores in NSW, two in Melbourne and one on the Gold Coast. Owner Madeleine Thomson hunts down pieces in denim, silk and lace on regular forays to the US, Japan and Europe, with a focus on the 1950s to 1990s. She also crafts new pieces from vintage fabrics.
Blue Spinach on Liverpool Street is one of Australia’s top sellers of preloved luxury brands. Think Chanel sunglasses, Dior dresses and Hermѐs calfskin boots. Every piece is authentic and you’ll get the kind of attentive service you would expect in a luxury boutique.
On the shoppers’ paradise that is Oxford Street, Bloodworth Bellamy is home to thousands of rare and unusual items – everything from vintage comics, toys and taxidermy to badges and jewellery. A must for lovers of history and collectors of just about anything.
C’s Flashback, which also has a store in Surry Hills, specialises in American and Australian vintage, and anything in neon (it’s very bright on the eyes). Cowboy boots, denim, leather and military jackets, and sweatshirts are the store’s bread and butter, but it also does a great line in inexpensive accessories and you’ll always find a pretty floral tea dress here, too.
For high-end global designs, don’t miss Di Nuovo. This well-established recycled retailer is tucked in pretty William Street and stocks preloved Ferragamo and Hermès scarves, Chanel sunnies, Stella McCartney dresses and many other beautifully constructed pieces.
At 90 William Street you’ll find long-time consignment store, Pelle, a fine purveyor of preloved designer shoes, bags and accessories. With new stock every week, there’s Gucci, Givenchy, Marni and more.
Potts Point and North Bondi
They may not be vintage stores in the true sense but the two op shops (thrift stores in American parlance) run by charity Wayside Chapel often have fabulous retro finds among the high-end designer clothes donated by supporters. And the shopping comes with a feel-good addition: profits fund services such as the Wayside cafes, which provide low-cost meals for those in need.
On the same street as Wayside Chapel’s Potts Point store is Potts Point Vintage, where owner Arnold Kieldgaard has amassed a collection of clothes and accessories for both men and women, with the 1930s a focus. Arnold will regale you with stories about the Australian military jackets, vintage wedding dresses (a specialty) and safari suits on sale in his beautifully curated store.
Not far from Clovelly Beach you’ll find a strip of delightful boutiques and coffee haunts, and one of Sydney’s hidden vintage gems. The Frock Exchange is where local, well-heeled ladies take their last season international and Australian designs. Snap up a preloved Céline bag, Chanel dress or Christian Louboutin heels.
The Inner West
At Cream on King, owner Jonathan Head showcases not only his hand-picked vintage collection, but his passion for upcycling – biker jackets made from salvaged vintage leather; shirts made from two reworked old shirts. Vintage denim is big here, as are cowboy boots and classic retro T-shirts.
Further up/down King Street is Uturn Vintage Clothing, one of five Uturn stores in Sydney (there’s also a Uturn Contemporary branch on King Street), where you can dig through scores of pairs of Doc Martens, bold retro shirts, bomber jackets and classic knits.
As its name suggests, SWOP Clothing Exchange swaps, buys and sells preloved clothing, including plenty of vintage. The 1980s and ’90s are well represented here. Look for bell-bottomed jeans, leather jackets, bright blazers and sunglasses.
The Red Cross jumped onto the King Street vintage bandwagon when it opened its Newtown op shop, which specialises in retro clothing and accessories. There’s not much you can’t find in this jam-packed space and, although prices are above average for an op shop, they’re still very reasonable compared to the strip’s other vintage emporiums.
If you love shiny things – and who doesn’t? – you might want to pop into Vintage Times, which sells art deco diamond rings, vintage fob chains, cocktail rings set with various precious stones and an interesting collection of bakelite rings, bangles and brooches. By appointment only.
Forever Vintage specialises in designer and couture clothing from the 1930s to the 1980s – names like Christian Dior and Bergdorf Goodman – imported from the US and Europe. Evening and cocktail dresses are a specialty, and we love that they stock Australian sizes 4 to 20.
The Vintage Clothing Shop has a deserved reputation as one of the country’s finest vintage outlets. Operating since 1974 – first in a tiny store at the wrong end of Castlereagh Street, but now at spacious, elegant digs at the right end – Lorraine Foster and partner Grayson Cole have amassed an enviable collection of vintage from around the world. If it’s not instore, they’ll more than likely find it for you: their Surry Hills warehouse is a sight to behold.
Top Five Vintage Markets in Sydney
One of the most popular markets for bric-a-brac, antiques and vintage clothing is Rozelle Collectors Market, held on the grounds of Rozelle Public School every Saturday and Sunday, 9am–3pm.
Glebe Markets are on every Saturday, 10am–4pm, and feature lots of preloved clothing, jewellery and furniture alongside handmade local artisan collectables.
Plenty of Aussie designers started out at Bondi Markets, a vibrant, bustling hub of beachside style held at Bondi Public School on Sundays, 10am–4pm. Hang with Bondi locals and discover vinyl, fresh flowers and one-off second-hand dresses, jackets and shoes.
Buy from up-and-coming Sydney fashion designers, sample local bread and browse vintage dresses, fur vests, cocktail rings, leather boots and preloved handbags at the city’s most famous markets, held every Saturday, 10am–4pm.
Surry Hills Markets specialises in recycled, second-hand and handmade pieces. It’s an open-air market with racks of vintage clothing and tables of bric-a-brac, along with a community cafe offering light meals with good vegetarian and gluten-free options. It’s held on the first Saturday of every month, 7am–4pm.
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